Your online community is an important digital asset for your business. It's essentially the online hub. And if you're just renting space for it, you may be leaving yourself open for issues that are out of your control.
Some companies rely on third-party platforms like Facebook to engage their customers. But with a website, marketing team, social media team and tech team already in place, should businesses focus on driving users to their own online community platform?
There is a lot of value in providing an "owned" or custom space for your community's growth.
For starters, you instantly have more control. You're no longer confined to the functionality of the host platform. You become the decision maker and decide what is right for your community. Conventional social media pales in comparison.
As you can see, Discord only gives you data from the last 120 days for non-partner and non-verified servers.
Social networks also tend to be noisy. This is especially true when it comes to politics, and religion. The discussions often breed aggression and hostility. In turn, this hinders opportunities for positive interactions and community-building with customers.
According to the GlobalWebIndex report, members of community sites prefer online communities in comparison to social media sites for the following:
- Meaningful conversation (36% higher)
- Getting respect from others (28% higher)
- Feeling oneself (24% higher)
- Being appreciated (21% higher)
- Getting voice heard (19% higher)
- Developing a sense of belonging (18% higher)
To top it all off, community builders run “platform risk”. This refers to risk associated if a rented platform goes down in usage or decides to make unwarranted changes.
Castles made of sand
Over-investing in external social media is a strategic misstep
Do not put all their focus on a platform you don’t own, just to build and grow followers you don’t own, either.
When building a sand castle, nothing in the world seems more important than shaping and protecting it from the encroaching sea.
But sand castles, then as now, are a symbol of impermanence, and will eventually slip into the ocean.
Just another button
On Discord, I've exhausted my 100 server limit. It's very easy to join a server and you might think that's a good thing. However, forgetting these servers is just as easy as joining them.
I haven't visited any of these channels for months on end. Discord's constant notifications pinging doesn't help either. I'm constantly trying to identify where my notifications are coming from.
I would bet big on a standalone community platform or app. The idea is so much better than just another button on a community marketplace.
An agnostic community would, in fact, be free from any ties to a specific platform. It would also run equally well across more than one platform.
Impression by association
Facebook is notorious for its privacy issues and for selling user profile data. Discord is known as a platform for gamers. Slack is recognized as an email replacement tool, meant for work-related communication.
When you choose to build your online community on one of these platforms, you run the risk of being associated with the branding of these platforms.
White-labeled online communities allow the owners to organize social elements however they want. They provide powerful moderation tools to keep the community a safe place.
You own data, you control everything
It’s never been more critical for brands to own and listen to customer data.
Building a community on a platform you own gives you access to a wide range of data points. And of course, it can be integrated with all other data repositories such as CRM, marketing hub, analytics, and reporting tools. You can augment the internal data with the community data and external social media data to get a 360-degree view of the customers.
In the 21st-century, without a data-driven strategy, running a business is impossible, let alone beating the competitors in the crowded markets. In this age of personalized-everything, a community makes your brand strong and has the capability to lead you through the most radical digital transformation ever.
To summarize, the debate between owning vs renting is almost a no-brainer, if you can afford the overhead cost. However, the platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Reddit still have advantages in terms of top-of-the-funnel acquisition.
This is why you should utilize the renting platforms to drive traffic to the places you own.
It's the best of both worlds.
Top 5 reasons why you should host your community on a platform you own-
- Data is the most valuable currency in the 21st century. Own the data and have control over your business. All critical insights like member information and community metrics will help you drive business decisions. For more information on this read about community metrics here.
- Google can index community pages of your community. What does this mean for you? More organic traffic of course. Tell me about one business owner who doesn’t like free traffic. If Google loves your community, it will shower its love in the form of new customers for your business. Make sure you give Google the chance to do this :0
- You get full control over moderation. In a community, moderation is an essential part of operations. Having your community on a platform you have control over gives you the full authority to run the community as per your discretion. You decide the rules. You run the show.
- You can integrate community discussions into your website in the form of testimonials, threads, insights, and much more.
- Hosting a community on a white labelled platform gives you control over branding and whatever social elements you need. Alas! the perfect synergy.
The 3 musketeers
Here are 3 platforms allowing you to own your community:
Scenes gives you a white labeled community-building app with the flexibility of mobile and desktop. You have access to all member data and can design the community as per your requirements. Scenes also gives you the benefit of getting your community indexed by Google. Book a demo today and switch to Scenes.
Tribe.so also helps you own your community. The key difference is that you can only customise the sidebar, layout and the header. So, you don't have much control over the branding aspect of your community. If you are looking to monetise, Tribe is not the right platform for you.
3) Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is also a popular community building platform that allows you to own your community. You can enjoy the benefits of white labeling. However, mighty networks is not optimised for mobile. In a world where more than 80% of users interact on mobile primarily, your community growth will suffer.
For a more detailed comparison of the community platforms that allow you to own your community vs renting it, check out this blog.
If you’ve been hunting for an answer to the question of owning or renting a community space, we’re sure this article has helped you finalize on the right choice. Still got some reservations? No worries, our team of community experts is always available to help you out. Talk to us here.